When I decided I to go to Haiti, I had no idea this experience was one that would change me forever. Days leading up to this trip, I tossed and turned at night worrying about how I would be able to emotionally handle this experience. I was scared but my desire to bring joy to the people in Haiti’s lives outweighed my own worries. Upon my arrival, I quickly realized, what I thought was something worth worrying about back home in Florida was so minuscule compared to the conditions in Haiti. There were so many happy and sad moments throughout this trip. When we arrived at the orphanage, the first thing I remember seeing was all of the children waiting out front waiving, smiling when we pulled up. We couldn’t even get out of the van before the children were grabbing our luggage and helping us grab our bags. As soon as you step foot on the ground, a little hand grabs a hold of yours and you look down at these children who want you to immediately pick them up. You quickly forget your worries about germs, running noses, a visible rash or a wet diaper. Your only focus is the smile you bring to their faces and to know that they feel safe in your arms. There are many visions that won’t ever be erased from my mind, like driving through City Soleit and feeling the mood change on the bus. I no longer heard laughter, jokes or anyone talking……It became silent. The fires on the side of the road that burned the trash due to no sanitation left a unforgettable smell, the tents that families lived in as their “home” were lined up one after another. I kept thinking in my head, how can these people live like this? I just wanted to get back to the orphanage and be surrounded by the joy of the children, the sound of their voices singing and the comfort of the support they all provide one another. I realized it was possible to have a “happy place” even in a third world Country where you were surrounded by destruction and poverty. My happy place was being with the kids at the orphanage.
I wondered how I could make an impact without a medical background but you quickly realize your help is needed everywhere. I worked the Pharmacy for three days, some of my favorite moments were having the patients try on glasses and seeing their face light up as they were now able to see their world in a more beautiful light or giving a child a toy that they cherished and appreciated so much. One of the sadder moments for me was when I had to reconstitute a Z-pack for a 5 year old and to explain to her how to take the medicine for the next couple of days. I called a translator over and asked if he could bring her mother over so I could explain it to her and the translator looked at me and said “she came here alone”. Alone, I thought? Wow, this young girl is raising herself. My heart is forever with the people in Haiti. When I say this trip changed me, I mean I will continue my efforts and commit long term to this cause. Thank you to the wonderful group I traveled with that held you up every moment of the way.